Monday, July 8, 2013

Immigration And Separation Not Substantially Related

In a matter involving an attorney's representation of a wife in negotiations with her philandering husband, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals disagreed with the trial court's holding that there had been no attorney-client relationship between the husband and the attorney for the wife.

The court nonetheless affirmed and enforced the agreements.

The attorney had handled an immigration petition that resulted in an attorney-client relationship with both spouses:

The testimony established that [attorney] Gu prepared the petitions for the benefit of Wife, using documentation supplied by Husband. Husband was required to be the petitioner, thus making any services provided  by Gu in furtherence of the immigration petition for his benefit as well as Wife's. Husband's furnishing of the necessary documentation to enable Gu to prepare the petition was a manifestion of his intent that she provide legal services to him...Gu, as an experienced immigration lawyer, manifested her consent to provide legal services for Husband by preparing forms obligating him to support Wife and using documentation supplied by him. The circuit court erred when it concluded that no attorney-client relationship existed between Husband and Gu in the immigration matters.


The immigration petitions and the separation agreements involve wholly different practical areas of law and issues and, therefore, are not substantially related.

The information that husband provided to the attorney related to a different employment than at the time that the separation was negotiated.

Husband had acknowledged in an e-mail that attorney was not representing him in the separation process and, indeed, was specifically advised to seek his own counsel. (Mike Frisch)

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